Expert advice: how to get more trouble-free miles from your motor

trouble-free motoring
We can’t guarantee this won’t happen to you but follow our tips and it’ll be a lot less likely (Picture: iStock/Ljubaphoto)

How many trouble-free miles has your car covered? And perhaps more importantly how many more is it good for? Records by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show there are more high mileage Skoda Octavias in the UK than any other vehicle. That’s currently 1950 UK-registered Octavias with a valid MOT that have done more than quarter of a million miles.

But how do you get that many trouble-free miles out of your car? It certainly doesn’t happen by accident. Here are my tips.

Have your car serviced regularly

Having your car’s engine oil changed when the manufacturer recommends has a huge influence on how well your car runs. The oil ensures delicate engine parts aren’t grinding together and wearing prematurely. It works hard and does lose its ability to lubricate effectively over time so needs changing regularly.

During the service, the filter that ensures the air the engine uses in the combustion process is replaced. The oil filter which catches any foreign bodies in the lubricant is changed too. These simple procedures, usually carried out annually or in some cases when the car’s computer tells you, reduce engine wear and help it to last longer.

Perform regular maintenance

Every month you should open the bonnet and check the engine’s vital fluids. There are reservoirs for coolant and brake fluid which have markers on so you know when your car needs more. And then there’s its oil.

Find your car’s dipstick, take it out, clean it on a cloth, re-insert it and pull it out again. The dipstick has minimum and maximum marks on it, the oil should be between the two. If it isn’t, you will need to top it up. We’ve already covered how to choose the right oil and top your oil up.

Let it warm up

It’s not important to warm up a modern car in the traditional sense of the word. That fell by the wayside when they invented fuel injection. But think of an engine in similar terms to an athlete. You wouldn’t expect a world-class runner to turn in record-breaking times without warming up. And it’s the same with an engine.

Modern day engine oil is generally synthetic so will perform at all temperatures. But the engine still has an optimum temperature where performance is best. The best way to warm a modern engine up is to drive it rather than leaving it to idle. Which brings me onto my next point.

Drive more carefully

To warm an engine try not to rev it beyond 2000rpm before you change gear. You can usually hear when an engine is straining. Driving gently initially will allow the oil to warm up and coat all the parts that need covering. After a handful of miles you’ll be able to start enjoying its performance to the full.

But do remember that the more carefully you drive, the more miles you’ll get out of a car. This is because careful drivers reduce the wear and tear on various components.

When I say careful, I don’t necessarily mean slow. I’m talking about anticipating what other road users are doing and driving appropriately for the road conditions. Do this and you’ll be able to scrub off speed naturally rather than braking hard. It might help you to spot potholes in advance and avoid them. And as well as minimising wear and tear it’ll help you to save fuel.

trouble-free motoring
More Octavias than any other model have exceeded 250,000 miles in the UK (Picture: Skoda)

The proof of the pudding…

The three models that the DVSA says have covered the most miles in the UK are the Octavia, the Volkswagen Passat and Toyota Prius. Look at independent reliability surveys and these three models may appear towards the top of some but not all. However, what the three cars do have in common is they are all popular with minicab companies.

This means three things. First, they cover more miles than ordinary cars so you’re likely to get higher mileages in younger cars. Second, minicabs tend to be well maintained, particularly when large companies are running them. And third, many cab drivers pay for their own fuel so tend towards the more careful end of the driving spectrum. I take the final two points as proof that the above tips for trouble-free miles work!

Damon Jowett is Green Flag’s head of Service Delivery – Rescue

18 comments on “Expert advice: how to get more trouble-free miles from your motor

  1. Richard Paybody 18/03/2020 8:15 PM

    Useful…..I sometimes think cars get a poor reputation because of the sort of people who drive them.I’m not suggesting a Fiat Punto is the most reliable car on the road but I went to buy one from a lady who had clearly not had the car serviced regularly (if at all) and had no idea how to open the bonnet. She was an art teacher. Skodas are bought by retired police constables.

  2. Mr Ted Wood 18/03/2020 9:08 PM

    Absolute common sense to carry out preventative maintenance to keep motoring costs down and to prevent break downs. The best advice I can give is to turn off the radio and listen to your vehicle. By doing this you pay more attention to other traffic and learn the warning signs of your vehicle before something fails.

    • J.E.Alexander 12/04/2020 1:43 PM

      Amen Mr. Wood

  3. Harry 19/03/2020 8:46 AM

    All very good tips to motorists.
    Thank you.

    • ernie woodall 19/03/2020 5:27 PM

      Rule number 1 :- When checking the oil level ,
      always ensure the car is level , otherwise you
      can get a false reading . After 60 years of
      motoring you do not forget the basics !!

  4. Harry 19/03/2020 10:38 AM

    Sound advice but, we Skoda owners are trying to keep this a secret!

  5. Christopher Meade 19/03/2020 10:50 AM

    My Volvo does not have a oil dipstick, this point was not covered in the comments above how do I check the oil level. Many thanks

  6. Anthony Colin Bluett 19/03/2020 11:31 AM

    Thanks for reminding me.

  7. Joe Vallance 19/03/2020 12:39 PM

    I use a solar trickle charger to keep my battery topped up as I do not use my car that often although I take it for a long run once a month

  8. Pippa Taylor 20/03/2020 8:09 AM

    Whoever is writing this should get a medal. Clear, concise and very readable.

  9. Eric Cheeseman 20/03/2020 10:38 AM

    liked receiving newsletter most of the content I have practised throughout 65 years
    of driving.

  10. Ray Stevens 20/03/2020 11:51 AM

    shame the youngsters don’t take notice of sensible driving

  11. michael wright 20/03/2020 3:23 PM

    Thanks always ready to learn good tips

  12. Stevr 20/03/2020 8:09 PM

    Thank you for refreshing my memory .

  13. William Leicester 20/03/2020 9:29 PM

    It is not just young people I am 67 and I have forgotten thing and it is not because of my age, I sometimes have other things on my mind which are more important, than and one thing leads to another it is only then you think.

  14. Roy whale 21/03/2020 11:25 AM

    Well done Green Flag all very good advice please keep it up.

  15. Peter Lovatt 23/03/2020 7:30 AM

    Excellent advice , you look after your car , and your car will look after you .

  16. Richard 23/03/2020 1:02 PM

    Its the common sense operations as described above that are soon put out of mind..
    Pity only green flag members can be reminded.’
    Well thought out.

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